The House Energy and Commerce Committee's subpanel on Oversight will hold a Friday hearing examining the FCC's relationship with "we will never launch an actual product" LightSquared. Republicans (Specifically Chuck Grassley) have long tried to make political hay from the FCC's initial effort to ease LightSquared's entry into the market by waiving conditions placed on LightSquared's spectrum, only to retract that waiver
when it was found that LightSquared's network interfered horribly with GPS technology.
Friday's hearing is set to examine why LightSquared's plan got as far as it did
, and whether the FCC followed its own guidelines and procedures. Republicans clearly still hope they can get some political ammo out of a somewhat dead horse:
No witnesses have been announced for "The LightSquared Network: An Investigation of the FCC's Role," but it will examine how the FCC handled the waiver, which was rescinded after interference issues with GPS devices could not be resolved to the FCC's and various government agencies' satisfaction, and whether the FCC's handling "was consistent with prevailing FCC policies, procedures and precedents."
There's no doubt Phillip Falcone and LightSquared tried to get government help (one of their current lobbyists is former Republican FCC boss Kevin Martin and they're still lobbying the FCC as I write this), but it's amusing that a company with no product whose fortunes were crushed by the FCC requires a hearing on whether they were too close with the FCC. Curiously, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon's long-standing and often incredibly sleazy influence on both parties apparently doesn't require investigation, so it seems unlikely that government integrity is actually at the heart of this election-season show pony.